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Syngenta sues to stop illegal sales of COKER seed varieties

Syngenta Seeds has announced actions to stop the illegal sale of its proprietary seed.

Syngenta has brought suit for infringement of its rights under the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) against six parties based in Arkansas, asserting that they have been selling soft red winter wheat seed produced from Syngenta's NK Brand COKER varieties. In the suits, Syngenta alleges that these six operations intentionally acquired or produced seed from the COKER varieties, with the intent to illegally market and sell the varieties in the wheat seed market.

Syngenta has brought suit against Delta Cotton Co-operative, Inc.; East Arkansas Grain Co., LLC; Griffin Seed & Grain Co., Inc.; Johnny Larkan, Prairie Farmers Association; Frank Skarda, Porter Seed Cleaning, Inc.; Jay Farming, Inc.; and Tichnor Drier & Storage, Inc.

"Syngenta is acting to protect its intellectual property under the PVPA. We have spent years of research and significant financial resources to develop these varieties, and growers are benefiting from PVP legislation, because companies, like ours, continue to invest in research," said Phil Farmer, wheat product manager for Syngenta Seeds. "We plan to take enforcement action against parties who act illegally under the PVPA."

Farmer said the company supports the PVP provision that allows farmers to save enough seed to plant on their farms the following season.

"Congress enacted this provision of the law to protect farmers and seed companies. When parties violate the PVPA, they harm the company and all its customers who are acting ethically and responsibly under the law," he said.

The company's proof of illegal activity includes protein-fingerprinting, evidence that the seed was illegally grown from NK Brand COKER varieties registered under the PVPA.

In addition to the alleged violations of the federal PVPA and the Lanham Act, Syngenta is suing the six defendants under Arkansas state law for interfering with Syngenta's business opportunities and converting those opportunities to their benefit. The conversion claim is the civil equivalent to criminal theft. Under federal and state law, Syngenta is suing to stop the illegal practices and to recover damages sustained by the company, in the form of lost royalities and profits, as well as the costs associated with each lawsuit.

The varieties in the lawsuits are NK Brand COKER 9663 and COKER 9543. Other PVP protected wheat seed varieties include COKER 9474, COKER 9803, COKER 9835, COKER 9025, COKER 9184, COKER 9152 and Century II.

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